June 19, 2019

PRESS RELEASE: New data: Climate talks dominated by fossil fuel industry lobbyists

BONN, Germany — The fossil fuel industry continues to have an outsized presence at global climate talks, according to findings released today by the Climate Investigations Center (CIC) and reviewed by Corporate Accountability. The findings come amid negotiations where countries could finally choose to adopt safeguards to keep polluting corporations and their proxies from unduly influencing policymaking.

Today’s findings build on a recent report chronicling how a trade group bankrolled by the fossil fuel industry called the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) derailed climate talks in the 1990s, helping to persuade the U.S. to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The CIC found that while the GCC disbanded in 2001, its members and executives have continued to influence climate talks through other channels.

Among the key findings:

  • Fossil fuel trade associations have sent more than 6400 delegates to climate talks since 1995.
  • The best represented trade groups include the International Emissions Trading Association (1817 delegates) and the International Chamber of Commerce (1145).
  • Combined, Shell, Chevron, BP, Exxon, and BHP Billiton have sent more than 200 delegates in this time.
  • GCC alumni have continued to attend and influence talks. Examples include former Deputy Director Eric Holdsworth, who hasn’t yet missed a year of meetings. He now does so on behalf of the Edison Electric Institute, known for its long history of climate denial. Former Science Committee member and Exxon scientist Brian Flannery has also been a regular, now engaging on behalf of a Chevron-funded think tank.

This is to say, the world’s largest polluters have been able to consistently send more delegates than small island countries and dozens of Global South countries on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

“The negotiations got booby-trapped by corporate interests from the early days. These organizations always aimed to take over the talks, slow them down or generally obstruct progress,” said Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of the Board of Environmental Rights Action. “Permitting these corporations to remain in the negotiation halls is disrupting and untenable. Progress will not be made unless they are kicked out of the talks.”

Bassey’s organization is among over 300 globally that are calling for parties to the UNFCCC to root out conflicts of interest this June. Among their concerns: corporations are using their numbers and clout to steer talks toward ineffectual carbon trading schemes and away from solutions like keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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